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Attila Biro, a Romanian journalist, was detained by Bulgarian police on Thursday evening, alongside a Bulgarian journalist near Pernik. They were working on an investigation related to the abolition of documents related to European fund fraud, according to "Rise Project".
The detained Bulgarian journalist was Dimitar Stoyanov, part of the "Bivol" media team. The media team asserted that an obvious dictatorship is starting in Bulgaria. The journalists were taken to the police station in Pernik because they were trying to report how documents related to the “GPgate” affair investigation (consultancy companies involved in grand corruption with EU Funds and Public procurement) were about to be burned in a hole near a village in the municipality of Kovachevtsi. At first, the police refused to cooperate and did not answer phone calls.
The Romanian Embassy in Sofia posted a statement regarding the case of the Romanian citizen detained during the night of the 13th to the 14th of September in the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. A team from the embassy went to the Romanian citizen's place to provide consular assistance. After following the steps taken by them, the Bulgarian authorities announced that the Romanian citizen was detained for scrutiny. One of Romania’s diplomats in Bulgaria, Florian-Daniel Mazilu, was with the Romania journalist, and after checks were carried out, both Romanian and Bulgaria citizens were released.
The Romanian Embassy in Sofia continues to monitor the situation, staying in contact with the Bulgarian authorities.
The Association of Bulgarian Journalists commented that they have followed the case and tried to contact the Ministry of Interior in Sofia. They tried to cooperate, but disclosed that the police officer in Pernik hung up the phone arguing that "he is not a spokesman for making statements".
The Association recalls "journalists are presumed to serve the public interest and any restrictions on them must be very motivated and otherwise they are restricting the freedom of speech."